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Positive news on Y’town shouldn’t mask negative

Published: Tue, July 29, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

While Youngstown government officials and residents have reason to feel good about recent news coverage that put the city in a positive light, a daytime armed robbery of a neighborhood grocery store near downtown is a reminder that there’s still a lot of work to be done.

First the uplifting. The city’s revitalization blueprint called Youngstown 2010, which has attracted country-wide attention and foreign press coverage, has become the foundation of a national study on how smaller industrial cities can be vibrant once more.

The study, “To Be Strong Again: Renewing the Promise of Smaller Industrial Cities,” was conducted by PolicyLink, based in Oakland, Calif. It was inspired by Youngstown, which officials of the national policy organization visited.

“The image of Youngstown is steel mills that are closed, nothing is going on and it’s a dying economy,” said Radhika Fox, the associate director who wrote the report. “But when I was there, I saw a lot of exciting work happening. We were inspired by what we saw in Youngstown.”

But it wasn’t only 2010, which provides the mayor and city council with a map for rebuilding the central business district, strengthening stable neighborhoods and creating green space in shrinking ones, that impressed PolicyLink.

The West End of downtown with the new high-technology campus, office buildings housing state agencies and The DeYor Center for the Performing Arts, along with the adjoining Overture restaurant, are an illustration of what can happen when the private and public sectors join forces for the common good.

The second positive piece of news about Youngstown came from the police department, which reported that overall crime in the city dropped 13 percent for the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2007.

Zero tolerance

Police Chief Jimmy Hughes attributed the decline to the community policing campaign that has his department working in partnership with the community. State and federal law enforcement agencies also are participating, along with the sheriff’s department.

But while the police statistics show an overall drop in crime, homicides remain a blot on Youngstown’s reputation. There were 17 killings between January and June, compared with 15 in the first six months of last year.

Motor vehicle thefts also recorded an increase — 7 percent over the same period last year.

Mayor Jay Williams has acknowledged that homicides remain a major problem and contribute to the opinion of suburbanites that Youngstown is an unsafe city.

In that regard, a brazen robbery Friday afternoon in the J D Supermarket on Belmont Avenue is evidence that gun-toting criminals are not dissuaded by the zero-tolerance policy in effect this summer.

The robber walked a block or so carrying his rifle by the side, entered the store with a mask on while there were people inside and outside and took nearly $300 in cash from the grocery store and Ohio lottery cash registers.

No one attempted to stop him and he fired shots inside the store; fragments of floor tile and bullet casings struck the store clerk.

The robber then walked out of the store and made his way to the getaway car. Two city street department employees saw him getting into the vehicle, which contained two other people.

The car was subsequently abandoned and is now in the custody of the police department.

It is not the first time the store has been robbed. Indeed, other such neighborhood businesses are frequent targets of criminals.

Ironically, such establishments have become the lifeblood of inner city residents who have no means of getting to the larger supermarkets.


1JanKo(10 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

Those were all good points.

Urban problems which persist in both the older cities along the mahoning river and the suburbs need to be continually addressed. There is no time to rest, even with some of the recent good news out of Lordstown and the YBI.

Looking at the editorial's final sentence however, there are some ways we can begin to pick away at this specific problem.

Every Tuesday from 3pm-6pm for the rest of the summer there will be a farmers market downtown on central square, providing the opportunity for people to enjoy fresh produce.

More information and photos can be found here:

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2Tugboat(759 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

Be leary of recording practices, including incidents not reported


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3apollo(1227 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

Tugboat is correct, including clearance numbers.

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4cooks50(20 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago


Please get a life, you must really be a lonely old man with nothing else to do but bash the city. You never seem to have anything postive to say. And when many positive things happen you turn them into negatives. If you hate it here so bad please do us all a favor and leave im sure no one will miss you.

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5Tugboat(759 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

To quote Art Buchwald, "Americans are broad-minded people. They’ll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive( or expresses an opinion more than once), there’s something wrong with him.”

The reality is, when department heads perceive that they will be held accountable based on data, they sometimes change it in their favor. And those who seek to influence public opinion often employ a variety of means to slant statistical figures into supporting their point of view.

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6Cbarzak(110 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm not sure how good news masks bad news. It seems to me that this editorial is blowing smoke while trying to seem like it's saying something solid.

Report the good news, report the bad news. People will do with both what they will, because we are people, and we do that.

Youngstown knows it has problems, lots of them. If you had written the opposite thesis of this editorial, something like, "Negative news shouldn't drown out positive changes" it would be as equally valid, and equally unenlightening. This is the sort of thing anyone can think up. It doesn't take a philosopher.

Editorials should be more substantial, more defined. I'm not sure who's masking the negative in Youngstown, since we hear about it every day in every form of media and from people who don't live here but sure have something to say about it.

Come on. Give us a viewpoint that really makes people think about things in a way that we haven't already.

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7lucy(135 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

Janko, Cooks, and Cbarzak, thank you all for calling for an end to the regional negativism that is such an entrench MV characteristic. Good comments, all!

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8lucy(135 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

"an entrenched MV characteristic" Sorry for the typo. I have small child on my lap, who, by the way, enjoyed a morning at the Butler, the downtown library (which she says is the best library), and a stroll across YSU campus. We do these activities every Tuesday. Every Saturday, we attend the Northside Farmers' Market. We've been to two (of three) art celebrations downtown in the last three weeks. I'd take her to the Monday night movies, but she's a little young for Casino Royale. Last night, we went to the Universal Cafe and candlelight vigil at the Unitarian Church. It's not about "masking the negative" but about rebuilding a community in small as well as large ways. All of it matters.

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9Education_Voter(1167 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Cbarzak that the editorial was below standards. Perhaps in the middle of summer, the daily editorial was handed off to an intern? It included so many undeveloped topics that I can only say, scrap it and start over.

When did JD Supermarket become "the lifeblood of inner city residents who have no means of getting to the larger supermarkets"? Obviously the writer has never been in this establishment, or any of its type. Is this a plea for public transportation, more Nemenz IGAs, or what?

These little convenience stores are famous for outdated product and lack of nutritious items. They have done business with the community without becoming a part of the community, filling mostly a need for alcohol, cigarettes, cheap sugary snacks, and lottery tickets. Is this a reason to threaten the owner? No. But the owners know the risks of their business very well, and choose to stay in it. A problem in such a business does not counterbalance the good that has been done in Youngstown by the tech incubator, YSU, and concerned citizens.

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10ACHBEE(1 comment)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

JD Supermarket is a problem on its own on that corner, with its weatherbeaten, neglected exterior. The owners should be shut down by the health department and the city and that building should be torn down and a new one put up in its place. It has outlived its useful existence. All the crackheads and drunks frequent that dump anyway. Anyone with any sense will hold out and catch a ride to a real store in Liberty anyway.

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